Book review: For the fame of God’s name

For the fame of God’s name: Essays in honour of John Piper is a collection of essays that cover the area’s of: John Piper himself; Christian hedonism; The sovereignty of God; the gospel; the supremacy of God in all things; preaching and pastoral care; and a couple of the ministry of Desiring God. There are 27 essays by numerous authors such as Don Carson, CJ Mahaney, Mark Dever and Wayne Grudem.

The book is a rather large volume and each essay stands on it’s own. This means that whilst you can read the book straight through (as I did), you could also dip in and out and look at the essays that are most of interest to you. I’ll be honest, I found a few of the essays a bit technical and labouring for me, but the majority were very edifying. My hunch is that some of the essays will be of more value to me at different seasons in my ministry.

I always enjoy reading a collection of essays as you get different styles, emphasis and challenges. This collection was one of the best I’ve read – I mean the line up of authors is second to none. However, there were about 10 of the essays that were particularly brilliant and really helped me spiritually. Some of these essays I will read time and time again and get others to read too. A few were:

  • When all hope has died: meditations on profound Christian suffering by Mark R. Talbot

This made me rethink me entire theology of suffering and the sufficiency of the gospel. Talbot makes you questions when God is most glorified in a very surprising way. This essay will definitely affect my pastoral care of the struggling.

  • Christus Victor et Propitiator: The death of Christ, Substitute and Conquerorby Sinclair Ferguson

I love Sinclair, he is so biblical, warm and logical…brilliant. This is a really helpful primer on this neglected doctrine.

  • Pleasing God by our obedience: A neglected doctrine by Wayne Grudem

This really messed with my head! But when you read it, the Scriptures are so clear that I ended up thinking I may be an Antinomian! You have to read this essay.

  • The Glory and Supremacy of Jesus Christ in Ethnic distinctions and over ethnic identities by Thabiti Anyabwile

This is probably the most significant essay in the book for me. This was especially helpful as I thought through issues of Welsh National Identity. I would encourage any ‘national-ist’ (Welsh, English, American….) to read this essay. He has a very helpful approach that would bless many.

  • Dethroning money to treasure Christ above all by Randy Alcorn

It’ll hurt you…but you need to read it.

  • The Pastor as Counsellor by David Powlison

Powlison at his most clear, concise and confrontational. A brilliant essay to make sure that we don’t out-source our pastoral care or send people to get advice that will pull them away from their loving heavenly Father.

  • The Pastor as Leader by John MacArthur

I found this very enlightening. MacArthur looks at the Maternal and Paternal aspects of the leader. A very helpful read. Something all pastors should understand and apply.

  • The Pastor and his Study by William D Mounce

This just made me realise that I am very stupid for not being better with the Biblical languages. Those of you who know Greek…read it and feel smug ;). For those of us who decided to do a youth club placement over Greek (a genuine option in my theological college) …ooops!

This is a big book that is of particular worth to pastors, but could be read by anyone. My hunch is that most will buy it and read a selection of the essays. I think it would be worth doing that, even if you only read the essays I have suggested.

As an aside: this book was presented to John Piper (in honour of him…while he is still alive…) and there are a few ‘we love Piper‘ paragraphs. However, they only do that when Piper points to God or is a godly example. The book treads a fine line on Man-Worship…but I felt that it came firmly down on the side of glorifying God.

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